Netizens Slam Luxury Fashion Labels for Cultural Appropriation of Palestinian Keffiyeh

The luxury brands were termed insensitive for marketing their product in the current scenario to grab the attention of the consumers.

The French fashion house, Louis Vuitton has been facing global backlash recently for cultural appropriation of the traditional Palestinian Keffiyeh.

Louis Vuitton came under the radar of Diet Prada, a fashion watchdog group on Instagram, which pointed out that the Fashion label’s luxury designer scarf resembles the traditional Keffiyeh.

“So LVMH’s stance on politics is ‘neutral,’ but they’re still making a $705 logo-emblazoned Keffiyeh, which is a traditional Arab headdress that’s become a symbol of Palestinian nationalism,” stated Diet Prada on Instagram.

 

Louis Vuitton (LV) described the scarf on its website as being “inspired by the classic Keffiyeh and enriched with House signatures”. The company claimed the scarf, made from wool, cotton, and silk, is lightweight and soft, and that it “creates an easygoing mood” as quoted by the Middle East Monitor.

The symbolism of the traditional Keffiyeh

The Traditional black and white fishnet-patterned Keffiyeh is worn around the neck or head by the Middle Easterners, either to escape the heat or even during special occasions. 

But the Palestinian Keffiyeh has become a symbol of resistance, nationalism, and Palestinian solidarity. Especially after it was made popular by Nobel Prize-winning Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat during the 1960s.

The notion of Keffiyeh being majorly associated with Arab masculinity was also challenged in 1969 by Leila Khaled, a female member of the PFLP, when she donned the traditional scarf in the style of traditional Muslim woman’s hijab, to showcase her equality with men in the Palestinian armed struggle.

In May, the world’s largest search engine, Google, was also slammed for associating the Palestinian scarf with terrorism. 

Google received severe backlash when the search engine was asked ‘what scarf do terrorists wear on their head?’, and the results showcased photos of the scarf being worn on the head and neck, along with the terrorists waving the Daesh flag, hence deteriorating the symbolism of the scarf.

Global response to the issue

Louis Vuitton’s latest design has received criticism from all around the world, with #BoycottLouisVuitton trending on social media.

The netizens also mentioned that the colors used in the LV scarf, blue and white, resembled the colors of the Israeli Flag, even after being aware of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. 

“While @Google considers #Palestinian Keffiyeh “terrorism”, @LouisVuitton decided to support ethnic cleansing, #apartheid & cultural appropriation by exploiting #Gaza children’s blood & #SaveSheikhJarrah buzz to sell WHITE & BLUE PALESTINIAN keffiyeh! #BoycottLouisVuitton” said one Twitter user.

Louis Vuitton was accused of passive political commentary when it has always claimed to stay neutral while choosing a political stance. 

While this is not the first time that the Keffiyeh is an object of cultural appropriation. Preceding Louis Vuitton, Fendi, the Italian Luxury Fashion Brand, has also received criticism for modifying the fishnet pattern of the Palestinian headdress as its own, therefore completely ignoring the significance of the scarf.

“Luxury brands love to be neutral on issues that matter to us, but then replicate our culture for their own gain. @Fendi @LouisVuitton this is cultural appropriation. Clearly, you didn’t care to understand the symbolism behind the keffiyeh. You just wanted to profit off of it” wrote one Twitter user.

Profit from suffering

Louis Vuitton and Fendi were also criticized for making profits out of the Palestinian suffering, by selling their own version of the traditional Keffiyeh for $705 and $890 respectively. “Can’t believe that you’ve stolen a symbol of resistance and selling it at that price! Outrageous! Fendi’s $890 keffiyeh Louis Vuitton’s $705 keffiyeh”, tweeted another user.

The traditional Keffiyeh industry in Palestine has already been damaged by foreign imitations from China and India while experiencing a gradual downfall. The traditional headgear is sold at a cost that is less than 5% of the price that the fashion labels have demanded.

This has made the netizens question the fashion labels about their silence in the matters of politics associated with Palestine, while also trying to increase their profits at the cost of Palestinian suffering.

“This is so wrong shame on you @LouisVuitton @Fendi please educate yourself on the Palestinian keffiyeh speak up on the genocide & ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people not profit of them,” said one user.

The fashion brands were also questioned about releasing the scarves in the wake of a deadly conflict between Israel and Palestine that has led to hundreds of people succumbing to death. The luxury brands were termed insensitive for marketing their product in the current scenario to grab the attention of the consumers.

Although both the brands haven’t issued any official statement following the accusations, Louis Vuitton has withdrawn its controversial scarf from its website, whereas Fendi’s scarf still remains on its website.

 

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